Elective Policies and Procedures

Indiana University School of Medicine
Elective Program Policies and Procedures


The Elective Program provides each student with the opportunity to select elective courses in areas of his/her interest. The program makes available extensive resources, in addition to offering great flexibility for planning an individual program. The faculty, representing volunteer physicians in private practice as well as full-time clinicians and investigators, provide a depth of background and a wide spectrum of interest.

Elective courses offered in both the basic sciences and clinical sciences serve to widen the student's experience in his/her medical education. The electives also provide the student with opportunities to strengthen areas of weakness and/or to pursue subjects of special interest.

The goals of the Elective Program as established by the School are:

  • To facilitate the student's increasing responsibility for self-determination in education.
  • To provide an opportunity for the student to augment previous experience in clinical and basic science areas in preparation for his/her chosen career.
  • To enable the student to observe the practice of medicine in its various forms in a university and a community setting and to be exposed to opportunities for careers in medicine in the state of Indiana.
  • To allow the student to participate in the care and treatment of ambulatory and acute problems.
  • To provide the student with opportunities to acquire and utilize skills which will be helpful in his/her future career (i.e., eye and ear exams, sigmoidoscopy, suturing, reading x-rays, etc.)
  • To provide the student with opportunities to strengthen areas in his/her program.
  • To provide special experiences to meet the needs of students with specific goals, such as research experience, postgraduate or graduate education, and/or special training outside the state or country.


The Elective Program Catalog has been prepared to provide students with essential information needed in selecting elective courses. The elective courses have been carefully reviewed and approved by the Curriculum Council.  

Changes in the courses offered or changes to any course's description are not anticipated. However, if changes are made, they will be brought to the attention of students as soon thereafter as possible. Each course has a course number, title, and description. The number is not an official university academic course number but is one assigned by the Medical Student Affairs office to aid in the identification of the various electives. The numbers are extremely important in stating elective preferences and in making course assignments.


Scheduling of Electives/Clerkships

4th year medical students are required to successfully complete three months of core clerkship coursework and seven months of elective study. The required clerkships of the fourth year are radiology, emergency medicine, and a sub-internship in internal medicine

The required clerkships are scheduled in early 2015.    Following the scheduling of required core clerkships, electives are scheduled using a computer algorithm that equitably assigns  students using their elective preferences in nine separate rounds of computer matching.

All scheduling is the final responsibility of the Medical Student Affairs Records and Registration Office. Retroactive elective credit for previous experience (research, clinical work, etc.) will not be granted. Students are discouraged from scheduling any elective that would involve being taught and/or evaluated by a family member.

After elective schedules are completed in May 2015 and rosters distributed to course directors and hospitals, schedule changes may be made in accordance with procedures listed under the Schedule Change Policy (see below).


Elective Schedule Change Policy

After the initial computer elective match, schedule changes may be submitted on "Elective Change Request" forms in accordance with the following:

  1. One complete "Elective Change Request" form is required for each calendar month being changed.
  2. A complete "Elective Change Request" form requires the student's faculty advisor's approval and the course director's approval for the elective being dropped, and for the elective being added.   Please note: For electives in institutions with a director of medical education, his/her approval is required instead of the individual course director's approval.
  3. A complete "Elective Change Request" form is due in the Student Records Section, Medical Student Affairs, Medical Science Building, Room 162 ONE MONTH PRIOR to the start of the elective unless otherwise noted in the course description. Students are requested to contact Medical Student Affairs staff should any difficulty be encountered in contacting the advisor or course director. Faculty and hospital directors of medical education request adequate notification of change.
  4. Final approval of every "Elective Change Request" is the responsibility of the Dean's Office for Medical Student Affairs pending approval of those indicated above and completion of all necessary requirements. Students and other appropriate individuals will receive a copy of the final processed form from the Dean's Office- Medical Student Affairs.

Grading and Evaluation

Students will be evaluated by the course director of each elective according to the School of Medicine's grading policy. All scheduled electives must be satisfactorily completed. All failures or isolated deficiencies will be referred to the Student Promotions Committee for review.

Student evaluations of each elective are due upon completion of the elective and are required before credit is given.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate, each student must satisfactorily complete a minimum of seven (7) elective months and three months of core clerkship experience. Four (4) elective months as a minimum must be established courses (non-special electives) listed in the 2015/16 Elective Program Catalog.

One calendar month represents four (4) academic credits. All fourth year courses officially begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month. A "full time" elective entails a full academic day, five days per week and may include weekend duty, night call, and/or weekend call. Duty hours for medical students while on clinical rotations will conform to the same restrictions mandated by the ACGME for residents and fellows. Medical students cannot be assigned clinical duty of more than 80 hours per week.

During the fourth year, a brief time off from electives (1-3 days per unit) for residency interviewing or other purposes may be allowed at the discretion of the elective course director and may or may not be granted. Time off from course work in a third or fourth year elective for any reason (except national examinations and commencement activities) may not exceed 3 days. Time off from fourth year core clerkships is NOT allowed, except for national examinations, required OSCE's (objective structured clinical exams), and commencement activities. Exceptions to this rule can be granted only with express permission of the clerkship director.

Individual student requests for exception to any of the above described policies/requirements should be submitted in writing to the Dean's Office- Medical Student Affairs at least (2) months prior to the proposed special scheduled program. Information regarding the procedures for such appeals is available in the Medical Student Affairs office, Room 162.

Students will graduate, assuming all requirements are satisfactorily completed, on the last day of the month in which the final elective or rotation is completed. Students are responsible for all electives in which they have been scheduled including the seven (7) months of electives which are required. Additional electives are a part of the student's graduation requirements and must be completed prior to certification of their graduation. The deadline to drop any additional elective(s) corresponds with the final change dates identified in the Schedule Change Policy as noted above.

Commencement will be held in May of each year for all graduates.  Students who participate in an elective or rotation after April 2016, will not receive their actual diploma until the completion of their last scheduled course and verification that all requirements are satisfactorily completed, including student course evaluations for each elective.

Financial Assistance

A student may accept "subsistence support" for electives taken outside Marion County to offset expenses. Students who are receiving National Direct Student Loans and/or Health Professions Loans must report any additional financial assistance received for taking elective courses to Student Financial Services, Medical Student Affairs office, Medical Science Building, Room 158.


 Policies and Procedures

A "special elective" is defined as any elective not listed in the IUSM Elective Program Catalog for which a student requests academic credit. Special electives may be academic programs offered in the state of Indiana or out-of-state. In general, no out-of-state special electives will be approved unless it is established that the program is available to and selected by students of the medical school(s) in that state/region.

All special elective forms must be completed and returned to the Dean's Office for Medical Student Affairs, Student Records Section, Medical Science Bldg, Rm 162, no later than one month before the elective start date for electives at LCME accredited institutions (including Special Electives at IUSM). For electives at non-LCME accredited institutions or venues all forms must also be completed and submitted one month before the elective start date. NOTE:  Non-LCME and research special electives must be approved by the IUSM Electives Subcommittee. This step cannot be bypassed.


Special electives must be a minimum of 26 calendar days in duration to earn 4 academic credits. Special electives of less than one month may be approved to meet special needs for 2 or 3 weeks duration or in multiples of 2 or 3 weeks.   A special elective of 2 weeks (2 credits) must be a minimum of 12 calendar days in duration.   Special electives of 3 weeks (3 credits) must be a minimum of 19 calendar days in duration.  Students will be allowed to do no more than 2 special electives of less than 4 weeks duration.   Shortened versions of established IUSM electives are classified as special electives and will require the same reviews and approvals as typically required for special electives. 


Students must be in good academic standing to be eligible to participate in a special elective. Third year students are not eligible to enroll in clinical special electives.  Third year students may request enrollment in any regular IUSM elective that is designated as being available to third year students and also non-clinical special electives.   With course director approval, third year students may be allowed to enroll in any regular IUSM electives designated for fourth year students only, on a space-available basis.



In order to obtain IUSM academic credit for a non-IUSM course, special elective requests require review by IUSM faculty and staff to insure academic integrity, compliance with IUSM standards, and appropriateness for the student’s academic program.    For purposes of review and approval, special electives are classified in four categories:

         Electives at LCME accredited schools – this category contains most United States and   Canadian medical schools. Most LCME accredited schools now use the AAMC Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS)

         Electives at non-LCME accredited US and Canadian schools or sites – this category would include electives with private practice physicians not directly affiliated with IUSM

         Research Electives

         Electives at international schools or sites 





Academic credit for an elective at an accredited LCME school requires the completion of a Special Elective Request Form. The Special Elective Request Form requires the following:

1)      A course description from the instructor or from the host institution. The course description should include detail regarding the educational experience of the course and a statement noting the number of duty/work hours expected for the student to spend weekly on the elective.  The course description should also include course goals and objectives, and plans for assessment.

2)      Approval from the appropriate Indiana University department chair.  Interdisciplinary offerings or electives not classifiable under a clinical or basic science department must be approved by Butch Humbert, M.D., the Assistant Dean for Curriculum in the Clinical Sciences, as department chair.

3)      Approval from the student's faculty advisor.

4)      Approval from the proposed special elective course director or institution.     

Completed Special Elective Request Forms for LCME accredited sites must be submitted no later than one month prior to the beginning of the proposed elective.  



Special electives that are in the US or Canada but are not affiliated with a LCME accredited institution require completion of:

  1. Special Elective Request Form    
  2. Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum      
  3. Non-LCME Special Elective: Instructor Addendum       


Completed Special Elective Request Forms, Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum Forms and Non-LCME Special Elective: Instructor Addendum Forms must be submitted no later than 1 month prior to the start of the proposed elective for non-LCME domestic electives.




Special electives at international locations require completion of all of the following forms:

  1. Special Elective Request Form
  2. Special Elective Request Form– International Elective Addendum
  3. Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum,
  4. Non-LCME Special Elective:  Instructor Addendum
  5. International Travel Verification Form   (see IUSM International Travel Requirements for information)    

      Additional documentation needed for foreign special electives include:

  • IUPUI Student Information Form, including emergency contact information  
  • IUPUI Medical History Form
  •  IUPUI Waiver and Release Forms
  • Proof of orientation for foreign travel conducted by either the IUPUI Study Abroad office or appropriate IUSM faculty

Completed Special Elective Request Forms, Non-LCME Special Elective: Course Addendum Forms ,  Non-LCME Special Elective: Instructor Addendum Forms,  International Travel Verification Forms  and all required supporting documentation must be must be submitted no later than 2 months prior to the start of the proposed foreign elective.

The Elective Subcommittee will review and approve/disapprove all non-LCME special elective requests, including all international special electives.

635 N Barnhill Dr | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | Ph: (317) 274-1970 | Fax: (317) 274-4309